Though they played the feuding saas and bahu in Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi, off-screen, Apara Mehta (Savita) and Smriti Z Iraani (daughter-in-law Tulsi) were always extremely good buddies.
However, of late, cracks have appeared in the friendship. Behind the camera, the tension between them has become extremely palpable.
Says a unit member, "Everybody knows what kind of a manipulative person Smriti is. Initially, Apara, Smriti and Kamalika Guha Thakurta (Gayatri chachi) were friends, sharing the same make-up room and bonding together.
But over the years, after knowing Smriti's nature, they have grown apart." Though Smriti and Apara prefer to be diplomatic, the other buddy in their group, Kamalika is more forthcoming.
"Yes, there has been tension between Apara and Smriti for quite some time. It started much before the story on Apara's character getting killed, came out in HiTLIST (Tulsi to kill Savita, November 5, 2005).
There has always been an element of competition between them," says Kamalika who further adds, "My relations with Smriti have always been very cordial.
Everybody knows I call a spade a spade and don't behave badly with people unless they rub me wrong, so Smriti stays clear of me and doesn't try to get friendly. After working with each other for six years, we all know each each other's natures."
'We' before 'I'
Says Apara, "I have always been a happy-go-lucky person. I always believe in 'we', rather than 'I'. I am not insecure about anything. I have been doing theatre for 25 years and television for an equally long time. In fact, I used to anchor the children's show Santakukdi during the DD days.
So whatever anyone does or says, I will always remain ahead. The show I did earlier, Ek Mahal Ho Sapno Ka, had also reached the 1,000-episode milestone.
But I have never blown my trumpet. In fact, my colleagues tell me, 'Savita, you are dumb. You have done so much; you must talk about it. Let people know'. But I can't do all this. I am content with my life."
So how is her relationship with Smriti of late? "Nothing will change on my front. I am an honest and forthcoming person. I do talk to Smriti. In fact it was her birthday last week and I had SMSed her. She tells me the Kyunki unit will never be the same without me. And it was a mistake to kill my character."
Next month, there is a show of the Hindi play, Kuch Tum Kaho Kuch Hum Kahein in which Apara and Smriti feature together.
"When Smriti expressed a desire to do theatre, I was there to guide her and get it right. I always wanted the Kyunki team to be together. Even if there was a problem, I would ensure that it was solved with a laugh," says Apara.
It is learnt that the decision to axe Savita's character was made by producer Ekta Kapoor on Smriti's behest.
"I had no clue that my character was being terminated, till I read it in HiTLIST. I was taken aback; the unit was shocked," says Apara. "I did not ask Ekta or anyone else why this decision was taken. She is the producer; it's her call. "
So did Ekta kill her off because Smriti asked her to? "Why are people saying this? You think Ekta does things depending on what other people say? I have no clue on this front," says Apara.
At the Star Parivaar Awards last week, Kamalika refused to go up on stage and collect Smriti's award.
|There has been tension between Apara and Smriti for quite some time |
— Kamalika Guha Thakurta
Says Kamalika, "Though it wasn't an issue, I feel it is silly to go and take someone else's award. Anyway, nobody asked us to take it.
Ekta was sitting in the front row and we were sitting 10 rows behind, so we thought she would receive it. The organisers called us to accept it on Smriti's behalf, as she was doing her play in Mulund. So Apara went to collect it."
Says Apara, "I have no problem with this. Yes, I did receive the award on behalf of Smriti. She even called me the next day and asked me where the trophy was."
No Jodee Kamaal Ki
Did Apara know that Smriti refused to appear in the Star Plus show Jodee Kamaal Ki with her? "This is what I have heard and was quite taken aback.
When I received a call to be on the show, I suggested Kamalika as we both are very similar in nature.
But they wanted Smriti and then I heard that Smriti did not want to participate with me. But all this does not affect me or change my equation with Smriti. She may have her own viewpoints and thoughts — to each his own."